After what seems like a very long mid-winter break, the KCC Coventry League team was back in action last night, as the KO Cup competition started. Once again failing to get one of the numerous byes, we had a first round encounter with Division 3 side, Nuneaton C. This meant a 2.25 points handicap start for our opponents, which left us needing at least a 3.5-0.5 win for us to go through to the Quarter Final.
Its been a long time since I had to make the trip over to Nuneaton, and I can pretty confidently report that it has got even further away from Kenilworth in the last two years. Nevertheless, the old homing instinct kicked in and destination was duly reached without any need for the satnav.
As is to be expected in these circumstances, we massively outgraded our opponents, with a minimum rating gap of 540 points, but as we know from previous experience, the risk of slipping on a banana skin makes these tense encounters, where there is nothing to gain but lots to lose. This time round, I'm pleased to say, we were never in any danger of failing to go through - though there is always that nagging doubt that you are one blunder away from blowing the match.
Ben, who I remember having a torrid time before eventually winning in a similar match in Rugby a few years ago, was this time the first to finish. I only managed one glimpse at his game against Terry Clay and he had won a couple of pawns and had the White king in his sights. It finished very soon after so I assume something major occurred!
We chalked up another Black win when I got the full point against Bernard Visgandis on Board 2. I won a pawn early on, but then - shades of Morecambe and Wise - played the right moves in the wrong order, which should have given back the pawn. Missing this chance, Bernard went wrong and allowed me to win material shortly after, before resigning when a rook down.
Andrew made it 3-0 with a nice finish against Stuart Simpson on Board 1. He'd won a piece very early on for a pawn (or two?) but then produced a nice queen sac combination to deliver mate with two rooks on the back rank.
The match was then closed out by Mike after an interesting game against Jiri Stepan on Board 3. Mike had a slow build up, but after first shattering the Black kingside pawns he was then able to navigate the complications to win lots of material thanks to a killing bishop check on the long diagonal against the Black king which was trapped on h8.
So that was us safely through to the Quarter Final, where we have another away tie against either Coventry B (Div 2) or Coventry F (Div 3). Another battle against the Handicap awaits!